January 24/Chicago/Argus Leader-- Food prices in the U.S. this year are expected to increase between 3-4%, according to estimates from both the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the nation’s largest farm group.

The American Farm Bureau Federation did a survey during the last quarter of 2012 and found the total cost of 16 food items, including milk, bread, salad and chicken, was $50.54, 3% higher than the same time in 2011.

The government’s forecast breaks down costs for items such as meat, poultry and dairy products. Most ranged between 3-4%.

The projected increase for fresh fruits and vegetables is between 3.5-4.5%.

The increase in costs for food eaten away from home is estimated to be from 2.5-3.5%.

The drought that hit much of the country last year, including South Dakota, is expected to have some lingering impact. It resulted in increased feed costs for livestock, forcing some ranchers to cull their animals and creating a more limited supply of meat.